A solid first period on the road in San Jose was exactly what the Ken Hitchcock led team would have wanted. Leading 1-0 on a Rick Nash first goal of the year and looking pretty solid in both ends was impressive... but, remember that there are three periods of hockey to be played, and especially against the standing Presidents' Trophy winners.
It was going to be the Shark's second period onslaught that separated the two teams tonight. Dany Heatley scored twice, Dan Boyle had a goal and two assists and Vlasic and Setoguchi twirled the twine to make it a 4-2 SJ lead. The CBJ's out shot the Sharks 20-19, but trailed... why? Simply goaltender Steve Mason was not on his remarkable game. He did not have the poise and the body position he usually exudes in the 24-square foot area. The cast of others in front allowed some offensive penetration and chaos in the blue of the crease, but it was one of those nights. This was the Sharks' home opener and they smelled blood in and around the chum that was being thrown for bait in the offensive zone. The natural goal scorers all scored tonight.
The game ended with the stars shining through for the home team. The three stars were Joe Thornton with four assists and a +4 rating. Healtey added a penalty shot goal in the third and ended up with the "Hat Trick" a +6 rating, and why not, throw in an assist. Skill and will were present on the number one line. Devon Setoguchi got this fourth goal in as many games as the productive right winger that patrols the wing on that line. The number three star was Dan Boyle, the product out of Miami University, as he played solid with his offensive prowess. All three players made a solid statement to be part of the Canadian Olympic team that will play in Vancouver come February. Canada cannot go wrong with any of these players.
A couple of quick notes... Manny Malhotra appears to be happy in SJ even at his bargain price. As stated in a conversation this morning at the morning skate that he had the desire to play for an instant winner, if he was to leave Columbus. Offers prevailed in a non traditional hockey market, but his goals were concrete. He was very cordial in his appreciation of the CBJ management and how his negotiations were handled this summer. Manny is a class act. Joe Thornton expressed to all of the media this morning not to worry about this Shark team. There is a lot of hockey to be played and be patient. Congrats to Joe who tied the knot in Davos, Switzerland this summer. He met his wife along side Rick Nash in Davos when the two were playing over there during the lockout.
The CBJ must put this game behind them. This game can be classified as stinker. They did not get beat or pounded into the ice. It was one of those nights as a player and a coach you slide to the curb and dismiss. Do not try to over analyze - push it aside. For certain, do not hold one's self in contempt. It is over and there are 79 more to play. March on gentlemen!!!
The team is now off to Phoenix and the game call for Saturday night... a new and improved team that went to L.A. and won 6-3, slid into Pittsburgh and shut out the Stanley cup champs 3-0. The Coyotes did lose in Buffalo 2-1, so they will be primed for their home opener. Four home openers for the CBJ in a row... Stay tuned!!!
*Throughout the season, AAA will bring you the Broadcaster's Blogs - "Davidge Dishes" and "Rimer Ramblings." The Columbus Blue Jackets television analysts will try to keep you updated on all the season action through their blogs, especially when the Blue Jackets are on the road.